Alumnus Produces and Co-writes with Meghan Trainor

Jazz musician, producer Thaddeus Dixon shares Disney award for ‘Best Song that Makes You Happy.’

Thaddeus Dixon on tour in 2012 as music director and drummer for former Atlantic Records recording artist Cody Simpson. Photo by Flo.
Dixon gets things right before he begins a recording session at Atlantic Records. Photo by Erica Hayes.

Drummer and MSU alumnus Thaddeus Dixon, ’06, was honored as the co-writer and producer of the “Best Song that Makes You Happy,” when Grammy-winning singer Meghan Trainor won the gold at the Radio Disney Music Awards in Los Angeles in April. The song, “Better When I’m Dancin,’” was featured in “The Peanuts” movie that premiered last fall.

Dixon, also known as the Music Man, hails from Detroit and graduated from Detroit High School for Fine and Performing Arts before he moved to East Lansing to attend Michigan State on a jazz studies scholarship.

Coming from a small school of 500 students to MSU with a student body of 44,000 students, he says, was a big awakening for him. “I remember like it was yesterday, my first day on campus as a freshman majoring in music.”

After receiving his Bachelor of Music degree, with a major in jazz studies, Dixon moved to the west coast and became an instructor in the music department at the University of California in Berkeley. He also performed, toured and recorded with accomplished artists including NeYo, Detrick Haddon, Roy Hargrove, Adam Lambert and Bryson Tiller. He has been featured on TV shows such as MTV’s “Making His Band,” “The Today Show,” “Live with Kelly,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Myers” and “Good Morning America.” He has also performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall and other historic venues.

VIDEO: Better When I'm Dancin
Source: Meghan Trainor VEVO

Dixon says he believes he was a fine musician when he came to MSU, and that is why he was accepted into the program. As time went on, he continues, “I was musically challenged there like no other time in my life. “The music faculty pushes you to your highest potential, and they ultimately only want the best for you. Although they love you, they don't allow you to slack. I'm thankful for Professor Rodney Whitaker and the jazz family for giving me the opportunity to showcase my skills and develop me as a better musician and most importantly a human being. 

“Although my concentration was as a drummer in the jazz department,” Dixon says, “the entire Michigan State music curriculum prepared me to be a better music maker overall.”

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